HAMDEN, Conn. – Princeton scored three unanswered goals in seven minutes en route to a come-from-behind upset of the No. 4/4 Quinnipiac Bobcats, 4-3, Saturday night at the High Point Solutions Arena.
The loss for Quinnipiac (12-2-1, 6-1-1 ECAC) snapped its 13-game unbeaten streak, the longest in the nation.
Andrew Ammon sent home the game-winner with 2:34 remaining in the third period when Matthew Peca turned the puck over right in the faceoff circle and Ammon scored on Quinnipiac goaltender Michael Garteig.
“The fourth goal was almost unbelievable, we basically passed the puck to him,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. “One of my best players, it’s unfathomable that that actually happened.”
The Tigers started their comeback trailing 3-1 after a Kellen Jones goal just 42 seconds into the period when Sam Anas sent the puck through the slot to a wide open Jones in the left faceoff circle after Princeton goaltender Colton Phinney went down expecting Anas to shoot.
Jack Berger started Princeton’s (3-8-0, 2-6-0 ECAC) comeback when Aaron Kesselman won the faceoff and passed the puck to Berger, who wristed the shot past Garteig’s blocker.
“We made some nice plays, the guys played with a lot more poise,” Princeton coach Bob Prier said. “They had nothing to lose at this point. They were making some good plays and they were having fun.”
The Tigers tied the game six minutes later when Aaron Ave skated up the left side of the ice and drew in Garteig before he passed the puck to Mike Ambrosia on the right side of the slot, who punched the puck home.
“All four goals we gave up tonight were just atrocious breakdowns; I couldn’t even rank them at how bad they were, just awful, awful defensive hockey,” Pecknold said.
A minute after the Ambrosia goal Ammon scored the game-winner, concluding the comeback for the Tigers.
“To get four goals on a team that’s that defensive, it’s huge,” Prier said. “Pretty proud of the guys for the way that they battled, just the plays they made under duress, maybe that’s what we needed, to be down by a couple and just realize, ‘Hey, we’re just going to have some fun, make some plays and see what happens.’”
Quinnipiac (12-2-1, 6-1-1 ECAC) jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 21 seconds into the second period when Kellen Jones found Anas on the left faceoff circle and he one-timed it past Phinney.
Just under two minutes later, Kellen Jones gave the Bobcats a 2-0 lead when he skated down the left boards and passed the puck to his brother Connor in the slot, who passed it back to Kellen, who had a wide open left side of the net to put home the goal.
Princeton cut the Quinnipiac lead in half with just 2:03 remaining in the second period when the Tigers scored on a power play as Eric Carlson wristed the puck through Garteig’s five-hole to make it 2-1.
“This is a resilient group; their character’s been tested and it’s being revealed,” said Prier. “We’ve kind of had our back against the wall it seems like going into the third, and they’ve responded every game. This time it finally paid off.”
Quinnipiac outshot Princeton 35-18 in the loss, and outshot the Tigers in every period of the game. Phinney stopped 32 of the 35 shots in the win.
“Quinnipiac’s a shooting team; they shoot any chance they can, and I thought that Colton did a good job of keeping them to the outside,” Prier said. “He made a huge save on one of their initial power plays, coming across, that was a big one. He was good, he was composed, I don’t know how many saves he had, but he outplayed their goalie and that’s something we needed, and he did that.”
“Obviously it’s an extremely disappointing loss and to give up that many goals that quickly for what is supposedly the best defensive team in the country, it’s a little bit of a shock factor,” Pecknold said. “I’m disappointed with our battle level tonight; it was poor.”